A ship's captain "did everything humanely possible" to protect human and animal lives aboard his boat during a freak storm on the Bass Strait in 2016, a court was told.
John McGee pleaded guilty in the Burnie Magistrates Court on Monday morning to a single charge relating to the decision to sail the MV Statesman from Stanley to Victoria on January 30, 2016, which resulted in the deaths of 69 of the 207 cattle aboard.
The court heard that poor weather had been forecasted, but what eventuated overnight to January 31 was significantly worse.
McGee was initially charged with nine criminal counts including aggravated cruelty, but eight of the charges were dropped at the outset of proceedings.
Defence lawyer Peta Smith submitted to Magistrate Katie Edwards that this was not, in fact, an animal cruelty case, but simply a method of management case.
She said there was "no intent, no foresight" and "not even recklessness" that contributed to the pain, suffering and deaths of the cattle on that day.
"This was a series of truly unfortunate events," Ms Smith said.
Ms Edwards clarified that the Crown case was that McGee was guilty of the decision to sail on that day, given the forecasted conditions, without providing the cattle aboard the ship any extra protection.
Once the storm hit, Ms Edwards said, McGee "did everything humanely possible" to navigate the storm.
Crown prosecutor Madeleine Wilson SC and Ms Smith agreed that was correct.
More to come.
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